A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Trust that those closest to you love you and want to help you. Even though friendships can change over time, they will last if they're built on trust and respect. Be true to yourself. Sometimes you need to share your secrets to help yourself cope with the sadness, fear, or shame they're causing you.
Positive Role Models
Cara, Sam, Alice, and Bea all care for and look out for one another. Seth's an understanding and caring uncle to Cara and Alice.
Violence & Scariness
Many accidents -- big and small -- but most not described graphically. Characters frequently fall, resulting in injuries ranging from cuts and scrapes to broken bones and concussion; boy's mouth is bloodied after getting hit by a ball; bookcase falls on girl; teen girl injured when bridge collapses; kids run into electric fence and get knocked unconscious. Many recollections of past accidents and injuries, including falls, scrapes, broken bones, and a man's death from hitting his head on a rock in a river. Teen and adult hit by a car in separate accidents. One of these accidents is described in detail, including a joint out of socket, broken bones, glass imbedded in skin, and bleeding wounds. Teen girl in abusive relationship that results in injuries. Teens in a house fire that results in burns and broken bones. Character recollects someone attempting to drown her. Implied molestation.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing, French-kissing, and heavy making out with hands under clothes. Mention of teen and young adult having had sex, including bondage that was initially consensual but turned nonconsensual.
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Infrequent swearing: "s--t" and its variations, "f--k," "dammit," "a--hole," "goddamn," and "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens smoke. Parent goes out for drinks with friends to cope with problems. Parent gives a beer to a teen, who gets tipsy from it. Parent drinks wine with friends, and one time they consume several bottles. Teens smoke a joint. Teens drink at parties and get drunk at a party they throw. Teens drink hot whiskey, sugar, and lemon.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Accident Season is a story of friendship, family, and long-buried secrets. For several years, Cara's family has experienced a surge of injury-inducing accidents every October. The book depicts one particularly dangerous October and how it affects the family and their friends. Many accidents are described, only a few graphically, including bloody injuries, broken bones, glass imbedded in skin, and joints knocked out of their sockets. Teens and adults drink. Teens smoke cigarettes and marijuana and sneak out to parties. Some kissing and making out and a reference to a teen character who's had sex. Swearing is infrequent and includes "s--t" and its variations and "f--k."
Is It Any Good?
Love, pain, secrets, and maybe even ghosts roil under the surface of this excellent debut coming-of-age novel. Author Moïra Fowley-Doyle incorporates elements of classic Irish ghost tales into her story of Cara's family's dangerous "accident season" each October. In facing danger after danger, the kids and their friend Bea grow and open up to one another in gripping and emotional ways. The story has a mystical, fantastical quality, but the emotional impact is genuine. Fowley-Doyle's writing is lyrical and beautiful. The teen characters are wonderfully drawn individuals who feel like real people and not the teen stereotypes that populate so many YA novels. In much of the book, the reader is confronted with situations that could be the imaginings of kids with active and creative minds or could be the result of something otherworldly, an approach that works to heighten the story's tension.
The first third of the book is slow in gaining traction. Characters keep getting hurt, which is supposed to make the reader feel a looming malevolence over the family, but it doesn't ring true initially. Also, the vague notion of family secrets is mentioned frequently early in the book, but they don't come into play until closer to the end. Merely mentioning the idea of "secrets" doesn't build tension or intrigue. Dropping more hints earlier as to what these secrets are would have made the earlier chapters more compelling.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.